Cable outage that interrupts 'Breaking Bad' sparks 911 outrage

Claudine Zap

Calls placed to 911 are intended to be for emergencies only. But that doesn’t stop people from phoning the police line for their own personal crises.

Police in Fairfield, Conn., say that a cable outage in the area during the airing of the drama “Breaking Bad” on Sunday night resulted in a spate of calls to police from people outraged they were missing their show about chemistry teacher turned meth-making drug lord Walter White.

A message caught on the Fairfield Police Department's Facebook page that has since been deleted read, “We are receiving numerous calls regarding the Cablevision outage. This is neither an emergency or a police related concern. Please direct your inquiries to Cablevision.”

The post also warned that “911 should be called for life-threatening emergencies only” and “misuse of the 911 system may result in an arrest.”

One fan of the show, referring to the drug kingpin’s lawyer, the character Saul Goodman, posted jokingly, “In case of ‘Breaking Bad’ emergency, call Saul!"

Another addicted viewer added, "Clearly Fairfield PD doesn't watch Breaking Bad."

But police don't seem to see nonemergency 911 calls as a joke. A woman in New Hampshire was arrested over the weekend after police say she called the service to ask for a writing implement. “I just want a simple thing,” a woman who police say is Jeanie Dufresne is heard saying to the Hooksett Police dispatcher. “A pen.”

“You want a pen?” the dispatcher asks on the 911 recording that played on WBZ-TV. “You dialed 911 because you want a pen? What makes this an emergency, Jeanie? You do realize that it’s definitely not an emergency. You’re dialing 911, you are tying up a 911 line, so you’re tying up people who actually have emergencies because you need a pen.”

The Hooksett resident had called 911 this month 10 times. But this time went over the line, according to WBZ-TV. Dufresne was charged with misuse of 911. She was arraigned Monday and is being held on $5,000 cash bail, the station reports.

Dufresne isn’t the only resident of the New Hampshire town who has been charged with misusing the emergency service. In March, 57-year-old Elizabeth Niemi allegedly called 911 to ask for medical help. But when the Fire Department arrived, she reportedly told them she wanted help ordering Chinese food. Niemi was also arrested and charged with misuse of 911.

“Hopefully holding these people accountable for what they’ve done we can get the word out there that the emergency system is a quality system that needs to be used just for emergency calls and service, not for something frivolous,” Hooksett Police Chief Peter Bartlett told WBZ-TV.